My secret desire to rap began somewhere in the awkwardness of high school when I heard a couple of older kids rapping along to theMinneapolis based hip-hop group Atmosphere: “I’m bigger than Jesus and bigger than wrestling, bigger than the Beatles, and bigger than breast implants. I’m gonna be the biggest thing to hit these little kids; bigger than guns, bigger than tsigarretsss.”
For years I’d hummed this tune, imagining myself on a hugely lit stage coolly flat lining my hand out from my waist and towards the audience as I hiss that last word, “tsigarretsss.”
The closest I’ve ever gotten to actually rapping in front of any audience bigger than the soap and shampoo in my shower has been the two times I performed at my high-school’s annual poetry slam contest. I came near close to winning the thing my senior year with a poem I wrote specifically for it. It went something like: “Honestly, honest to God, honest to all that is will be and ever was, honestly girl…”
In the lecture hall that day, black skinny jeans (perhaps the most un-rap attire ever), slip-on Vans, and a black hoodie shrouding my face, a mike in one hand and the poem in the other, I hit high-school rap glory for about five minutes, or at least as close as I could get to it in my soap bubble private school world, or at least as much as I dreamt I had. Although in the next round I didn’t win, I took pride in being the “sensitive” rapper, the honest, letting it all hang out Eminem word magician. I always had a love of poetry, but this was far better. Performing got me out of the teenage emotionality harbored in my bedroom and into a space where people listened.
If you’ve ever stood in front of an audience and given a speech, you’ll know what it felt like. If you’ve ever given a speech to a bunch of high school kids who are praying that you’re not going to make them wish they’d spent their lunch break not listening to you, and walked away from the podium feeling like you’ve just walked out of the desert after wandering in search of food and water for three weeks, you know how I felt.
Something came out that I’d neglected for a while. Maybe it was an expression of the social frustration that I’d experienced all through high school. Maybe it was me finally coming closer to being up on that stage, gaining some sliver of recognition for a craft. In reality, it was probably some confused feelings for a girl, masked by my naive sense of poetry.
Either way I felt more confident. Not just during, but afterwards, too.
My hip-hop dreams didn’t last. I moved on. I don’t want to be a rapper anymore, just like I don’t want to be an NCAA lacrosse champion. I’ve moved on to other things. But ever since, that memory has been coming back to me, sometimes in moments where I need to relive the boost I felt that day and sometimes in moments that make me question what on earth I was doing. I know one thing for certain though – I would have never known until I tried. And that makes me laugh. Who knows? Maybe I’d be the biggest thing to hit your little kids, bigger than guns, bigger than tsigarretsss.
Jeremy Dossetter is a first time Intern for Splinter Generation straight out of his first year at Kenyon College in rural Ohio where he studies English. He enjoys riding bikes long distances and photographing with film. His favorite poem is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. He currently lives in San Francisco.